Kathy Miller apologized for “inappropriate” comments she made about African Americans and racism – leading to her resignation as Donald Trump’s Mahoning County campaign chairwoman and a Republican member of the Electoral College.
She also said, however, she stands by her statements.
“I’m apologizing that it’s causing all the problems for Mr. Trump, not for the statements,” Miller said Thursday in an exclusive interview with The Vindicator. “It’s just a distraction. I thought it was best to step aside.”
The Guardian published an article online Thursday that quoted Miller, Trump’s volunteer coordinator in Mahoning County, saying: “I don’t think there was any racism until [President Barack] Obama got elected. We never had problems like this ... now, with the people with the guns, and shooting up neighborhoods, and not being responsible citizens, that’s a big change, and I think that’s the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America.”
She also said, “If you’re black, and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity; it was given to you.”
Miller called the Black Lives Matter movement “a stupid waste of time.” There was “no racism” when she was growing up,” and she didn’t care if people found her remarks offensive because “it’s the truth.”
Miller, a former Boardman Township trustee, said having to give up her position on the Electoral College is particularly painful, but after speaking with the Trump campaign, she decided it was necessary.
Miller’s remarks were condemned by Democrats and Republicans.
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, speaking at the Hillary Clinton for president headquarters in Warren, said he would like to see Trump apologize for Miller’s remarks.
Franklin called Miller’s comments “very discriminatory and divisive.”
“For any leader, regardless of party, to say that racism only existed when Obama became president is really the height of misunderstanding and ignorance,” he said.
Upon reading Miller’s comments, Mark Munroe, the county’s Republican Party chairman, told The Vindicator the Trump campaign should immediately remove her, and that he had contacted Trump officials in Ohio about making that move.
“I find her remarks shocking and offensive and they certainly in no way reflect the views of the Mahoning County Republican Party,” Munroe said.
Munroe said Miller’s statement that “racism didn’t exist before Obama was president is insane. It’s been a serious and difficult problem for our society, and we’re all trying to address it together and her statements are, oh, my God, I can’t even use the words.”
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, said, “These comments are a new low in the Trump campaign’s race to the bottom. Donald J. Trump has inspired, reinforced and added fuel to these sorts of racist and divisive comments over the course of his life and his candidacy.”
Jaladah Aslam, president of the Youngstown Warren Black Caucus and a Democrat, said, “Kathy Miller is the same kind of racist Donald Trump is. She was rude. She was wrong, but that’s the campaign Trump is running.”
Read more reaction from community leaders in Friday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.